Correspondence sent to the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee re: Proposed Cuts to the Welsh Book Council (Received by e-mail)


Dear Committee Member,

Please find attached a letter to Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates AM, registering our dismay and grave disappointment at the recently announced cuts to the Welsh Books Council. The letter has been signed by over 200 Welsh writers, academics and significant figures in the literary field in Wales, as well as writers and academics outside of Wales who wished to register their support and appreciation for books from Wales.

We understand that you will be meeting to consider the budget on 21 January. We therefore felt that it was absolutely essential that you had sight of our letter in protest at the cuts and had time to consider its contents.

Although this particular letter addresses, specifically, English-language impact, we would like to register our awareness of the deleterious impact on Welsh-language publishing, too, and our solidarity with those talented and committed publishers and authors working in the medium of Welsh. We do not underestimate the serious impact these cuts will have for publishers and practitioners working across the two languages. Wales is a small nation, but it is incredibly vibrant, and the publishers of Wales platform an impressive array of distinctive voices; we believe that must be cherished.

Yours sincerely,

Kathryn Gray


Ken Skates AM
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism
Welsh Assembly Government


January 16, 2015




Dear Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism


We are writing to express our dismay and grave disappointment at announced cuts to the Welsh Books Council budget, which will significantly impact on the publishing output of Welsh publishers.  Under the adjustment, the Welsh Books Council will suffer a reduction of 10.6% in funding, equating to a financial shortfall of £374,000. This shortfall will be carried by publishing houses in receipt of publishing grants. For English-language publishers, this means a cut of £76,500.[1]We note that this latest cut follows a reduction in the budget of the Welsh Books Council which has occurred annually since 2011.


The proposed cuts will have a significant and deleterious impact on a vibrant, bold, and highly acclaimed English-language publishing industry, which, although undeniably small, has proved its merits over the past decade – and which has a wide reach beyond Wales. The achievement in the wider context should not be underestimated. Publishers in Wales and their authors work within a complex and precarious economy. Competing with major commercial presses based in London, and with slight remuneration for both staff and authors for their dynamism and excellence, Welsh publishers, and their authors and titles, have nonetheless achieved great things, against great odds. Books from Welsh publishers are not only remarkable for their content, but also for their stylish and professional presentation, which underscores credibility in the contemporary market. Books from Welsh publishers have also led to a vital reassessment of our heritage – we are thinking here most particularly of the achievements of Honno, which has introduced readers to an array of exceptional female voices through its Classics series, and the significance of the Library of Wales series, published by Parthian.


UK and international prize culture should not mean everything in artistic terms, of course, but Welsh and Wales-based authors who publish with Welsh publishers and enjoy such success are ambassadors for our nation. And in prize culture, Welsh publishers certainly punch above their weight. In recent years, Welsh publishers and their authors have been nominated for the Commonwealth Book Prize, The Dylan Thomas Prize, The Betty Trask, the Orange Futures Award, the Journey Prize, the Jerwood Prize, The Stonewall Award, with frequent nominations for the T. S. Eliot and Forward Prizes. Welsh authors publishing through Welsh presses have recently been shortlisted for the prestigious BBC National Short Story Award and the Sunday Times EFG Award. Notably, in 2011, Patrick McGuinness was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Last Hundred Days, while in 2014, debutant Jonathan Edwards won the coveted Costa Poetry Award for My Family and Other Superheroes. These two titles, both from Seren, elegantly demonstrate the commendable breadth of concerns of the English-language literary publishing output – a novel set against the fall of the Ceausescu regime and a poetry collection with its deeply felt roots in the heart of the Valleys.


Welsh publishers understand the demands of the modern age and a changing relationship to books, and they have developed their commitment to digital publishing accordingly: over 1,500 ebooks are now available through An impressive number by anyone’s measure. Beyond literary titles, Welsh publishers also platform popular biographies, sports books, and, crucially, children’s books – enabling reach across a spectrum of interests and enthusiasms.


The impact of cuts will mean that publishers must now publish fewer books. This is the reality of what the cuts mean to the industry. This presents Welsh publishers with agonizing pressure – on top of pressure which already exists – and agonizing choices. Fewer titles annually mean fewer chances for the possibilities of commercial breakthrough, critical acclaim, and prize culture, all of which consolidates brand. Fewer titles mean that talented authors may be denied breakthrough and the benefits of working with a small but supportive team of staff with high editorial and production standards, since publishers have to negotiate these cuts alongside forthcoming titles from those established authors already on their lists. There is a fear that many vital voices of the future may turn to commercial houses and that, over time, there may be a gradual erasure of Welsh subject matter, as up-and-coming authors ‘neutralize’ their output to better fit the template of metropolitan publishers. This latter point, particularly if cuts continue at this rate, is particularly concerning, because they will undoubtedly lead to a loss of cultural distinction and an erosion of Wales’s clear artistic place within the wider UK firmament. Cuts will also mean marketing for authors and author advances – already at critical level – will likely be affected. As writers, readers, and those committed to the advancement of literature, we would also like to emphatically register our solidarity with those working in the Welsh publishing industry and our very real fear that jobs are imperiled by these cuts.


Welsh publishing houses offer a vital space for Welsh authors to interrogate the matter of nation and heritage, to explore the increasingly complex notion of identity in the twenty-first century, and to understand themselves both home and away. For readers, Welsh publishing houses offer the opportunity to enjoy high-quality titles which may often reflect their own domestic concerns, even as such titles frequently promote Wales within an internationalist scheme. We believe the health of a nation can be measured by its commitment to its writers and to those who seek to platform artistic talent with passion and skill. Wales has a long and deserved reputation for achievement in its literary endeavour. Dylan Day would seem to make little sense in a context which sees the contemporary output of great writing from Wales so undermined and apparently undervalued by its custodians.  Great writing from Wales speaks of cultural pride and ambition, which are the twin markers of any confident nation. We therefore strongly urge you to reconsider these cuts and the impact they will have – not simply over the immediate years ahead, but as a long-term political legacy. We understand that we live in a time of austerity, but believe that in such challenging times this most vulnerable but crucial platform for artistic enterprise should be especially protected. The publishing industry of Wales is now facing a cut that is approximately double that of other prominent bodies which provide services to the culture of Wales. This is unjust and amounts to self-sabotage.


Your Sincerely,



Kathryn Gray, poet and editor

Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales

Menna Elfyn, poet and President Wales PEN Cymru

Gwyneth Lewis, poet and writer

Professor Patrick McGuinness, poet, novelist, memoirist, and translator

Rachel Trezise, novelist

Malcolm Pryce, novelist

Carolyn Jess-Cooke, poet and novelist

Jonathan Edwards, poet

Dr Zoë Brigley, poet and academic

Dr Kate North, poet, novelist, and academic

Dr Francesca Rhydderch, novelist and academic

Professor Philip Gross, poet, novelist, playwright, and academic

Helen Lederer, writer, comedienne, and actress

Carly Holmes, poet and novelist

Dr Martyn Colebrook, independent scholar

Peter Finch, poet, novelist, psychogeographer, and editor

Sian Melangell Dafydd, novelist, poet and editor

Bethany W Pope, poet and novelist

Dr Carrie Etter, poet and fiction writer

Dai George, poet and novelist

Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, poet

Robert Harper, poet and editor

Dr Jasmine Donahaye, writer

Annie Freud, poet

Clare Pollard, poet and playwright

Emily Hinshelwood, poet

Angharad Blythe, editor

Pascale Petit, poet

Sarah Corbett, poet

Paul Henry, poet

Katherine Stansfield, poet and novelist

David Towsey, novelist

Jo Mazelis, novelist and short-story writer

P. C. Evans, poet and literary translator

Andrew Neilson

Tamar Yoseloff, poet

Alan Kellermann, poet

Simon Harris, playwright

Joe Dunthorne, novelist and poet

Katy Evans-Bush, poet and essayist

Professor Matthew Francis, poet, novelist, short-story writer, and academic

Susan Richardson, poet, nature writer, playwright, and editor

Claire Houguez, editor and writer

Emily Trahair, editor

Andy Ching, poet

Jayne Bowden, research student

Dr Mary Chadwick, academic

Julia Bird, poet

clare e. potter, poet and non-fiction writer

Professor Daniel Williams, academic

Kerry-Lee Powell, poet, novelist and editor

George Murray, poet, Poet Laureate of St John’s, Newfoundland

Jean Mead, novelist

Michael Oliver-Semenov, poet and author of creative non-fiction

Dr Nerys Williams, poet and academic

Cerys Jones, editor

Professor Daniel Westover, academic

Andrew Oldham, poet

Dr Zoë Skoulding, poet, translator, and academic

Kaite O'Reilly, playwright

James Lloyd, writer

Dr Bethan Jenkins, academic

Rhys Milsom, writer and poet

Professor Richard Gwyn, poet, novelist, author of creative non-fiction, and academic

Gwen Davies, editor and translator

Alix Nathan, novelist

Dr Alyce von Rothkirch, academic

Dan Tyte, novelist

Mike Parker, travel writer and broadcaster

Kristian Evans, poet

Rhian Elizabeth, novelist

Ben Gwalchmai, writer and editor

John Harrison, travel, history and fiction writer

Anna Lewis, poet and fiction writer

Sharon Morgan, actress and writer

Nicholas Murray, poet, novelist, literary biographer, editor, and publisher

Matthew David Scott, novelist

Nia Davies, poet and editor

Chris Paul, writer

Josh Robinson

Rebecca Parfitt, writer, poet, artist and editor

Professor Christopher Meredith, poet, novelist, and academic

Ifor Thomas, poet

Mike Jenkins, poet, novelist, and editor

Anna Kiernan, editor, academic and poet

Dr Sarah Morse, Senior Executive Officer, The Learned Society of Wales, and Treasurer, AWWE

Fiona Owen, poet and prose writer

The Hours Bookshop, Brecon

Tom Bullough, novelist

Niall Griffiths, novelist

Caroline Stockford, translator and Chair of the Translation, Linguistic Rights and Writers in Prison Committee, Wales PEN Cymru

Romy Wood, novelist

Jane Lloyd Francis, producer and performer

Dr Jeni Williams, poet, critic, and academic

John Barnie, poet, essayist, editor

Kathryn Simmonds, poet and novelist

Jessica Mordsley, editor

Rob Morgan

Calum Gardner, PhD student

Rosalind Hudis, poet

Professor Deryn Rees-Jones, poet, literary critic, and academic

Professor Stevie Davies, novelist and academic

Professor Jeremy Hooker, poet, critic, academic

Dr Kirsti Bohata, academic

Keely Laufer, poet

Mab Jones, poet

Lucy Llewellyn, editor

Elzbieta Wojcik-Leese, translator

Bronwen Williams, finance/arts administrator and PhD student

Damian Gorman, poet and playwright

Professor Angela V. John, biographer and historian

Sioned Puw Rowlands, Director, Wales Literature Exchange

Angela Topping, poet

Hazel Manuel, writer

Jackie Biggs, Chair, PENfro Book Festival

Tristan Hughes, novelist

Gary Owen, playwright

Huw Lawrence, short-story writer

Professor Richard Marggraf Turley, poet, novelist, and academic

Neil Evans, historian

Dr Shelagh Weeks, novelist and academic

Professor Ian Gregson, poet, novelist, literary critic, and academic

Alexandra Büchler, Director, Literature Across Frontiers

Sally Baker,  Director, Wales PEN Cymru

Megan Farr, Freelance Book PR and Project Manager

Rhian Ivory, novelist

Kieron Smith

Dr Claire Flay-Petty, academic

John Boaler, research student

Penny Thomas, editor

Eluned Gramich, author and translator

Malachy Doyle, children’s author

Professor Katie Gramich, academic and editor

Malachy Doyle, children’s author

Professor David Lloyd, poet, fiction writer, critic, and Director of the Creative Writing Program, Le Moyne College, Syracuse

Dr Melinda Gray

Dr Clare Morgan, academic and Director, MSt in Creative Writing, Oxford University

Dr Liz Jones, Humanities Co-ordinator, Lifelong Learning, Aberystwyth University

Kat Ellis, author of YA fiction

Dr Alice Entwistle, academic

Alexandra Jones, Fellowship Officer, The Learned Society of Wales, and PhD candidate

Clare Davies, PhD student

Dr Linda Ruhemann, academic

John K Bollard, scholar and translator

Sarah Todd Taylor, children’s author

Professor Margaret Lloyd, Springfield College, Massachusetts

Angela Graham, broadcaster and writer

Jon Gower, writer, broadcaster, and editor

Meirion Jordan, poet

Dr Michelle Deininger, academic

Jamie Harris, PhD researcher

Frances Presley, poet

Dr Stephen James, academic

Dr Matthew Jarvis, Anthony Dyson Fellow in Poetry, University of Wales, Trinity St David

Richard Lewis Davies, novelist, playwright, publisher, and editor

Matthew Plumb, poet

Marta Klonowska, PhD Student

Kathy Miles, poet

Dawn Kurtagich, author of YA fiction

Jenny Sullivan, children’s author

Sharon Marie Jones, children’s author

Dic Edwards, playwright, poet, and editor

Malcolm Ballin, independent researcher

Dr Sarah B. Campbell, CAs Writing Program, Boston University

Eloise Williams, YA and children’s author

Wendy Lloyd Jones, editor of Y Wawr

Professor Jane Aaron, academic and editor

Alan Cliff, children’s author

Dr Barbara Prys-Williams, academic

Dr Llion Wigley, Commissioning Editor, University of Wales Press

Professor Bill Jones,  Co-director, Cardiff Centre for Welsh American Studies, Cardiff University

Dr John Harris, bibliographer, biographer and editor

Dr Steve Thompson, academic

Emily Underwood-Lee

Robert Walton, poet and tutor in creative writing

Professor Johan Schimanski, Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages, University of Oslo

Professor John S. Ellis, Department of History, University of Michigan

Merryn Williams, poet

Molly Ker Hawn, literary agent

Angharad Penrhyn Jones, writer and editor

Tyler Keevil, novelist

Laura Sheldon, children’s author

Catherine Merriman, short-story writer, novelist, and editor

Lindsay Ashford, novelist

Huw Davies, children’s author

Nicholas K. Alderton, research student

Dr Karolina Rosiak, academic, Centre of Celtic Studies at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

Dr Aidan Byrne, academic

Lucy Gough, playwright and writer for television, film and radio

Ruth Bidgood, poet

Jessica Lewis, PhD student

Dr Mary-Ann Constantine, academic and author

Dr Charles Mundye, academic

Maria Grace, YA author

Chantel Mathias, arts education

Catherine Beard, PhD Student

Peter Stevenson, illustrator, storyteller, and writer

Debra John, storyteller

Ellen Bell, artist and writer

Kathryn Eastman

Dr Charlie Louth, academic

Dr Lisa Sheppard, research associate

Helen Reeves-Howard, storyteller

Hannah F. Lawson, writer

Helen Aileen Davies, novelist and short story writer

Dominic Williams, poet

Julie Ann Pritchard, performance poet, creator of Poetry at the Capel Bargoed, and Chair of Rhymney Family Lit and Art Fest

Colin Thomas, author

Kate Hamer, author

Rebecca F. John, Author

Professor Helen Fulton, FSA FLSW

Gareth Williams

Steven Lovatt (Teaching Fellow, University of Bath, and Teacher and Language Tutor, University of Bristol


[1] We further note that the cut to the Welsh-language publishing grant, also set at 10.6%, will amount to £187,000.